The contours of work are changing fast, and companies and their people must adapt to new technologies and a new workplace environment.
Business owners who are ahead of the curve in future-proofing their companies probably don’t need to ask ‘what is a VoIP number?’, since they most likely can’t live without the constant uptime of their flexible business phone.
Similarly, to meet the demand for remote and hybrid workforces, super flex offices and coworking spaces seem here to stay.
Traditional static offices and 1980s-style cubicle farms are out; open work areas that promote flexibility are in.
Coworking spaces are efficient and egalitarian places where people can connect face to face. They can be convenient, motivating to employees, and great for cultivating networking opportunities.
But with so many coworkers in the same room, open areas have inherent disadvantages. Privacy can be at a premium. And taking or making calls can often mean contending with excessive ambient noise.
Phone booths are the most convenient solution to common coworking space challenges.
Imagine you’re making a crucial sales pitch. Just when your coworker invites you for a cup of coffee, threatening to break your concentration and forcing you to run to the bathroom to complete the call.
To tune out distractions and avoid such scenarios, coworking centers can add quiet spaces throughout the space to help members focus on calls without interruptions.
And phone booths aren’t merely the place to give calls undivided attention. Workspace booths or meeting pods give members privacy and seclusion in the midst of a bustling coworking space to accomplish miscellaneous tasks.
Phone booths enable members to slow down for introspective solo sessions. They’re ideal for facilitating group activities and meetings. And they can also be a refuge from a totally open workspace plan that enables different work styles to thrive.
If you don’t have breakout or meeting rooms to take calls, you might designate separate areas in the hub using visual dividers or plant partitions in a pinch; one for active, chatty coworking and another for concentration and quieter call-free coworking.
Of course, to better equip your workspaces for a future of ubiquitous virtual conferencing and collaboration, much depends on the size of your spaces.
You might be a whizz at building automated workflows in a visual platform with enterprise-grade application security. But if the prospect of retrofitting an existing closet with phone booths doesn’t fill you with the joys of spring, no worries.
You can invest in a range of affordable phone booths which saves you from hiring a contractor or forking out on a disruptive DIY project.
When deciding on which option, as it were, ticks all the boxes, there are several components, trade-offs, and perspectives to weigh.
The good news about your search for the perfect phone booth for your flexible space is that more and more office phone brands are emerging with their own versions. On the flip side, it makes choosing harder.
Whether you’re buying ready-made or building your own, we’ve put together this guide to phone booths in coworking spaces.
Let’s unpack it all!
Keeping customers satisfied is the name of the game in any business. And one way to improve your net promoter score and turn detractors into happy customers, who sing your praises to their friends, is by managing their expectations clearly. That means having a reliable place where dissatisfied customers have the option to speak to a human agent rather than relying on automated services. Somewhere that keeps noise out and confidential information in, is probably the key factor in your decision to purchase a phone booth.
A good phone booth won’t need to deliver total soundproofing in practice. Instead, it should block a significant level of sound exchange between the interior and the office. Additionally, sound dampening enhances how things sound inside the booth by reducing echo while avoiding the excessive deadening that leaves the space feeling uncannily silent.
Soundproof booths also require a ventilation system. Not only to prioritize your members’ safety, but also to keep interiors cool and fresh for the next occupant regardless of how long the previous call dragged on for. Compact spaces with computers and people inside are liable to get hot and fill up with unpleasant scents in no time!
Some models allow members to adjust the airflow according to their preferences; others have ventilation systems that turn on and off thermostatically or automatically as members occupy the room, saving energy. Air can be drawn in through holes and pulled out by exhaust fans or warm air; pushed out through the ceiling, or blown from above. Whatever the thermodynamic case may be, you’ll require more ventilation than what accidentally filters in through the gaps in the door or curtains to control temperature, replenish the interior volume of airflow and keep members comfortable and breezy while working.
Hemingway was pretty enthused by a well-lighted place. We cosign that sentiment for office phone booths. Clearly, you want to illuminate members' faces for optimal appearance on video calls. Top-down lighting can cast unseemly downward shadows, so go with frontal lighting.
Some booths have skylights, and most come with at least some glass walls or a full-length door to let in natural light.
If visual privacy is not critical, clear walls on all sides maintain the sense of continuous open space throughout the premise. They eliminate confusion about when a booth is occupied.
In a nice compromise, some booths use beveled windows to obscure body language and expressions and prevent others from intuiting what’s happening.
You should have no trouble finding options on the market that accomodate a single member in addition to pods designed for two or three occupants at a time and even bigger options still that fit up to six people. The latter is ideal for holding private group meetings or brainstorming sessions that fall short of requiring a conference room.
Forward-thinking flexible workspaces should offer their members invaluable functional resources that are also distinctly bursting with aesthetic appeal.
Smart, elegant design can add professionalism and a fitting note of sophistication to client conversations.
Strike a balance between a booth that looks great on its own and one that complements the reigning aesthetic of your space. Or perhaps the design speaks to your company values and mission.
Side Note: Check out this article for inspiration: 30+ Wildly Creative Ideas for Meeting Room Design
Some models come with customizable interior and exterior design with respect to color, panels and carpeting. Be sure to consider whether the phone booth uses renewable and recyclable materials in its main components. A range of sustainable choices are available, including green options for upholstery and insulation, for example, or sustainably forested wood components.
If you’re buying a ready-made phone booth, check to see if the vendor offers affordable delivery (white glove) and removes the heavy lifting with assembly options. Be prepared for the complication, disruption and costs associated with the logistical challenge of putting your booth together.
Some companies include installation in the price, and some booths will require assembly on site. You should find out the number of people it will take to build, what tools will be needed, and how long before your booth will be up and running.
A further consideration: how easy is it to move or disassemble the phone booth should you need to relocate. Some booths come with portability and flexibility as standard. But you should research the process for moving the pod in advance if it needs relocation down the line as your needs and preferences change.
In an ideal world, provided you have done your research, you’ll be delighted with the booth you purchased. An enclave where members can concentrate on the task at hand, it will go down a storm, and you’ll start seeing the benefits right away. Sometimes, however, it’s impossible to anticipate any pitfalls prior to installation. For this reason, get clear on the return policies before you buy. Test things like soundproofing ability and connectivity (make sure it supports high bandwidth demands of video conferencing) during the trial period.
Make sure to consider the furniture that a ready-made booth is equipped with and whether or not the available seating options, desk, work surface and configurations will suit the needs of your members. Think about the ease with which members can enter and exit the booth. Photos can be misleading.
Moreover, do members prefer to stand or sit? You might have invested in all the best phone options for small business needs. But you also need to think carefully about the size and placement of the computer desk surface so that your video camera will capture faces in the frame when your members are on video-based calls. Consider seating again, especially if coworkers are spending a long time on calls.
Phone booths are a fixture of a varied, flexible coworking environment. They can raise your spaces' profile, reflect your values. Outside of your own aspirations for how you want to reimagine your workspace, these are the considerations and choices to bear in mind in selecting the right model.
One last advice here is not only to choose a phone booth well but make it easily available to members because namely accessibility of the amenity can make or break the success of your office space and set up your people for the future of work.
The article was written by Richard Conn, the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8x8, a leading office phone systems for small business with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments. Richard Conn also published articles for domains such as GloriaFood and PPC Hero. Check out his LinkedIn.